Chelsea’s search for a new manager has prompted wild speculation as to who will be Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement at Stamford Bridge. It is clear Roman Abramovich wants the fortunes at Stamford Bridge turned around quickly with immediate success at home and in Europe. Barcelona have been the most successful club in the Europe over the last decade, ergo, could an ex or current Barcelona manager be the resolution to Roman’s troubles?
Frank Rijkaard currently lingers in the realms of unemployment following his exit from Turkish club Galatasaray, resulting in him being linked to every job under the sun, and surely he will be on Abramovich’s radar having won major honours with Barcelona between 2003 and 2008.
Most tempting to Abramovich and the Chelsea board could be the way Rijkaard went around rebuilding an ageing team when he took over Barcelona, arguably a similar requirement now at Chelsea. Rijkaard blended the young players of the team he inherited; Victor Valdes, Carlos Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta with new signings Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Deco to form a team of world beaters, winning back to back La Ligas in 2005 and 2006 aswell as the Champions league in 2006. Abramovich’s quest for Champions league glory could logically see him turn to Rijkaard.
However, many stumbling blocks could lie in the way. Although undeniably Rijkaard did a fantastic job of turning a declining and ageing club into European kings within 3 years, this would probably be seen as slow development to Abramovich, who demands immediate success and deems a double winning season followed by a second place Premier league as inadequate.
Also, Abramovich and the Chelsea faithful won’t quickly forget the controversial meeting with Rijkaard’s Barcelona side in 2005 and the comments Rijkaard levelled at the club and then club manager Jose Mourinho. Rijkaard accused Mourinho and the club of ‘serious lies’ in reference to comments made about referee Anders Frisk and Rijkaard. Tempers definitely flared and although it was Chelsea who came out on top, the tension when the two teams meet still exists to this day and everyone associated with Chelsea may not be able to forgive Rijkaard for his perceived attitude towards the club, regardless of the style of play and benefits he could bring.
After winning every accolade possible, speculation is rife that Pep Guardiola will imminently be leaving Barcelona. Surely Abramovich would make a move for the best young manager in the game if he was to become available?
Guardiola evidently balances the ability to radiate authority within his squad with the ability to inspire jaw-dropping football, something which would appeal to Abramovich who has sanctioned (and probably strongly encouraged) the purchases of Fernando Torres and others who he hopes can replicate the Barcelona style of football at Chelsea, despite it questionably being an impossibility in the English game. Abramovich still demands attractive, creative football and would possibly be more inclined to try and tempt Guardiola than Rijkaard.
A recurring issue with Chelsea managers over the years, particularly Luiz Felipe Scolari and to an extent Mourinho, has been the ability to successfully man manage a team of international, egotistic superstars. It was reported that player power came to fruition during Scolari’s short reign and near the end of Mourinho’s time to overpower the managerial regime when they weren’t 100% happy; something which would probably not be the case with Guardiola who has proved he can handle the needs of stars such as Messi, David Villa and Iniesta whilst showing a relentlessness in move on players who don’t fit in to his ‘family’ like Ronaldinho.
The acquisition of Guardiola, unfortunately, looks very unlikely at Chelsea. Not only has he said as recently as the Champions league final that he wants another year at Barcelona but also his strong ties to Barcelona make it far fetched to conceive him shedding his loyalty and managing one of Barcelona’s fiercest European rivals. Whereas the Chelsea support would probably take more kindly to Guardiola than Rijkaard, Rijkaard would probably be more inclined and available to take the hot seat.
Although these Barcelona idols are undoubtedly coaches of world class pedigrees and, on paper, perfect candidates for Roman’s vacancy: why would either Guardiola or Rijkaard, both recognised and respected European coaches, risk becoming another casualty of Abramovich’s merciless firing policy?
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